Tourism Australia's SEO Guide
103 MB PDF
How to use search engine optimisation to increase visibility for your business
Using SEO to increase visibility for your business
How to put your business on the map with great SEO
How can you increase traffic to your website and attract more travellers? One of the most effective ways is with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). If you’ve asked this question before – or you’re new to SEO and digital marketing – you’ve come to the right place. Read on to discover everything you need to know about the basics of SEO, why it’s important for the tourism industry and how you can make the most of it to benefit your business.
What is SEO and why does it matter for tourism operators?
Many travellers start their decision-making journey by researching online, making SEO a fundamental part of every tourism operator’s digital marketing strategy. When a traveller searches for a word or phrase, the outputs from their search are presented on a search engine’s results page (SERP), which is made up of various categories including ads, maps and Google My Business listings. Put simply, the purpose of SEO is to ensure a website ranks highly in relevant searches on search engines like Yahoo, Bing and Google. And if you’re not on the first page of Google’s search results, you could be missing out on a big opportunity to attract travellers to your business.
How does SEO work?
Search engines have the difficult task of digging through billions of digital pages and selecting which pieces of information are most useful and relevant to show to the user in order to answer their question. Thankfully, Google has provided the two key pillars of their decision-making process, providing a roadmap to develop a successful SEO strategy.
Indexability describes the search engine’s ability to analyse pages on a website and add those pages to its index, which makes it possible for pages to show up in SERPs. Simply put, Google’s intelligent algorithms attempt to “understand” the nature of your content to determine how relevant it is to different keyword searches.
Crawlability describes the search engine’s ability to discover and access content on a website. To determine crawlability, Google first finds what pages exist, then scans those pages to determine how easy it is to understand the content. Think of it like a robot that crawls around your website, creating a map of it as it goes.
Ensuring your pages rank well in terms of crawlability and indexability is key in beating the competition and maximising organic growth, but there’s many factors that determine how Google ranks you. Some are easy wins and some are part of a long-term strategy, like boosting your website ranking to the top of the SERP with paid Search Engine Marketing (SEM) via a Google AdWords account. For now, we’ll focus on the organic approach of SEM with five key actions you can take to amplify your digital presence, starting today.
A localised SEO strategy is a great way to start reaching travellers who are searching in your area. Typically, these audiences will require your services in the very near future, making them an easy target to convert. Creating an optimised listing on Google My Business will give you the best chance of capturing these prospective leads – but it’s not enough to simply create a profile. To make sure your business stands out, you’ll need a compelling description, eye-catching photos and videos and positive traveller reviews.
Identifying keywords with Google's Keyword Planner tool
Once your Google My Business listing is up and running, it’s time to think about keywords. Selecting the right keywords for your website is the secret to discovering more customers – and Google’s Keyword Planner is a powerful tool that can help you do just that. You can use it to understand your audience, come up with new content ideas or refresh your website with strong keyword combinations.
As a guideline, aim to select topics and phrases that are relevant to your business, have sufficiently high search volume and low competition. You should also look to prioritise local keywords, such as “travel agent in Sydney” instead of “travel agent in Australia”, to convert audiences with higher intent.
To make sure your business stands out, you’ll need a compelling description, eye catching photos and videos and positive traveller reviews.
Optimising your website's metadata and headings
After you’ve created an effective keyword strategy, you’re ready to put those words and phrases to good use. Let’s start with metadata and headings – these are the main business descriptions displayed in search results. There are six main types of meta tags to optimise, but meta titles and meta descriptions are generally the most important. These can be straightforward descriptions of your services or even seasonally appropriate calls-to-action. Master these first by following this best practice guide.
In addition to metadata, there are also six different tags for headers on your website’s pages: H1 to H6. Their level of importance is consecutively ranked, with H1 and H2 being the most important to optimise. Think of the H1 as the title of your page and H2s as the subheadings or sections within that page. Not all headers are created equal, so familiarise yourself with these best practices to craft winning headlines for your website.
Creating contextual and credible content for your website
Once you’ve optimised the key pages across your website with local keywords, revisit Google Keyword Planner to identify travel-related keywords and create helpful, relevant content for your audience. Not only will publishing regular blog content help contextualise your website with Google, it will also help establish credibility through link building opportunities. When you publish content online, you give other websites the opportunity to link back to your page – this is called backlinking. Google counts the number of reputable links back to your site and uses this to score your authority and credibility ranking.
In addition to backlinking, you can also engage in internal link building. That means using your own links to point to other important pages on your website, building further link equity, establishing page hierarchy and minimising bounce rate. When exploring different link building strategies, it’s important to note that not all links are created equal. Backlinks carry a heavier weight when it comes to authority scoring, so build wisely. And don’t forget to use the Google Keyword Planner Tool regularly to help you create valuable content that’s up to date with seasonal search trends.
Going under the hood of your website with technical SEO
Now that you’ve created effective pieces of content, you’ll want to make sure they can be accessed by search engines and travellers alike – because what good is compelling content if it can’t be found? That’s where technical SEO comes in, ensuring your content can be crawled, indexed and ranked appropriately. You may need someone with at least basic web development skills to help with this, as common technical SEO issues include page speed, mobile friendliness and duplicated content.
As a starting point, you can use one of the many free online resources available to uncover the common errors that might be present on your website, then take the necessary steps to resolve them. A speedy, clean and mobile-friendly website ensures you’re optimised for Google and your content is discoverable.
Optimising the images on your website
To further strengthen the accessibility of your content, you’ll also want to make sure your images are readable by Google’s web crawling robots. With Google Image Search content taking up prime real estate in SERPs, image SEO plays an important role in the visibility and optimisation of your website.
The most common error is nondescript file names, which make it difficult for search engines to discover and rank your image content. While we wait for visual search technology to improve, the best way to encourage visual discovery is to apply alt tags and alt texts to every image you upload to your website. Creating descriptive metadata for each image also helps visually-impaired website visitors and is therefore favoured by Google.
Keeping your digital touchpoints up to date
These simple best practices will help get your business started in the world of SEO, but it doesn’t stop there. Search engines and audiences are constantly evolving, so it’s important to think of SEO as an ongoing exercise for your business. Thankfully, there are plenty of sophisticated tools available, such as Moz and Semrush, to help you manage your efforts in house.
Remember, your next booking could be just a few keywords away. And by keeping your Google listing up to date, planning your keywords and optimising your website’s metadata, images and content, you’ll make it that much easier for prospective travellers to find and engage with your business, time and time again.